Sunday, January 20, 2013

Daron Vroon's Sermon:: Miracles, Magic, and more

Reflection on sermon by Father Daron Vroon of St. James' Episcopal Church, Marietta, Georgia today; and on meditations by Jeremiah Sierra printed in Forward Day by Day in November 2012 (go to

Responding to today's Gospel reading about the wedding at Cana, our young associate rector Daron Vroon made a strong impression on me and everyone else who spoke to me after the service.  

He began by tellling us of a comedy sketch by English comic Rowan Adkinson, who adds to John's gospel a couple of miracles, in King James' English: he turns a carrot into a rabbit and saws a serving girl in half who is magically restored.  "Surely this is the son of God!" Adkinson has servants exlaim.   Fr. Vroon said it was funny but disturbing to equate the miracle of Jesus with a magic trick.  If God is a distant "watchmaker" who occasionally "interferes" with nature, the questions arise, "Why doesn't God do this more often to prevent disasters?  Why doesn't He interfere to help me?" 

But that view leaves God out of our daily lives.  Instead, Fr. Vroon  asserted that God is ground of all our being, all the time.  He quoted St. Augustine's sermon on the same Gospel reading, pointing out that the making of wine is always a miracle, just as the resurrection of Lazarus is not less awe-inspiring  than the birth of an infant.  God energizes nature, Fr. Vroon says, and a miracle is simply a clear view through nature to what God is always doing for us: sustenance, transformation, resurrection....

I've long enjoyed reading Forward Day by Day, a booklet printed and sold for $1 in Episcopal Churches.  This past issue's meditations on daily readings in our prayer book were especially interesting in November.  Here are some comments that I check-marked in early mornings when, flanked by faithful dog Luis and anxious puppy Mia, I read these meditations on scripture:

On Luke 13:10-17, about the woman whom Jesus heals on the sabbath, Sierra writes,  "My to-do list is supposed to organize my life and make it easier, but instead it becomes a cloud of failed ambitions looming over my head."  How true!  And, worse, "the internet...ends up being a tether we can't seem to cut."  But this was as true 2000 years ago, when people were bound by religious rules.  "God frees us from our guilt and sin: why can we not let ourselves...breathe a little?"

In another meditation, Sierra admits, "When my girlfriend or some other prophet challenges me, I ...have to work hard to refrain from [stoning] the prophets who are sent to help me."

About the prodigal son, Sierra observes that one son "thinks he has run away from the love of his family, but, like his brother, he never left."

In another meditation on James's admonition to "be quick to listen, slow to speak," the author remembers working with the public at the church office. "It was easy to get angty... But when I kept quiet and heard them out, I'd be able to help in small ways." 

About the line in Luke 16 that no slave can serve two masters, the author  tells us about buying stuff as a sop to his loneliness.  "It's not that money doesn't matter.  It's that money serves as empty calories for our hungry hearts." 

Responding to James 3:13-4:12 "Do [these conflicts among you] not come from your cravings that are at war within you?" the author comments, "Like fruit, we rot from the inside out, and we usually don't notice it until something bites into us.  [Sometimes] it's difficult to locate the source of our anger and anguish...."  I know that last feeling especially well.  It's the main reason I write in my journal, to locate the hidden source of nagging feelings.

Sierra's meditation about the parable of the servant who buries his master's investment ends with these words:
But we shouldn't let other fears get in the way -- the fear of risk, the fear of losing the gifts that we've been given.  When we do this, we end up burying what we have in the dirt, and we end up as paralyzed by fear as the servant who buried his gold.

1 comment:

Susan said...

I'm glad you wrote about his sermon. I was especially struck by his calling miracles little epiphanies that reveal what goes on in nature all the time.